Serkan Dilemek is a media student from Turkey studying at Pierce College as a participant in the Northwest Community College Initiative program. Here he writes about giving back to an organization that has been active in his country and many others in the face of natural disasters:
Fourteen years ago, on 17 August 1999, a 45-second, 7.2 magnitude earthquake left the city of Istanbul in shambles. More than 100,000 people were homeless, dead, or severely injured. Kids were left orphaned, businesses were destroyed, and schools, hospitals, and government agencies were reduced to rubble.
As Turkey, along with the rest of the world, rushed to the aid of the disaster stricken city, the earthquake’s aftershock continued destroying homes and lives in Istanbul and neighboring areas, resulting in the slow rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city.
Despite the aftershock and delay of the repair work, Istanbul bounced back to its former glory in a relatively small amount of time. Habitat For Humanity, and other international organizations, came to the destroyed city and tried their best to bring the city back to its feet.
The entire village of Berikoy, near Istanbul was flattened by the earthquake. It was here that Habitat For Humanity decided to launch a project called the Berikoy Housing Project, which involved building 50 houses and giving them to the people of the village. The project was initiated on June 11 2003 with the support of Promotion and Protection of Environment and Cultural Heritage Foundation (CEKUL) in Turkey and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from the United States.
Today, I can proudly say that I have helped repay my country’s debt to Habitat For Humanity. In November 2013, I helped Habitat For Humanity build a house in the United States with other participants of the Northwest Community College Initiative program. The day we volunteered, itwas really cold but we did not care. Our first job was to spread an insulating material on the ground. Then we built a wooden construction for the walls. Even though the house was not finished at the end of the day, we believed that even being there and participating was an excellent opportunity for us to give back to the United States.